Deputies: Father leaves 10-year-old in parking lot after child throws up in car

Christopher Griffis, 31, charged with child neglect & reckless driving

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. - A 31-year-old St. Johns County father was released on a $7,000 bond around 10 p.m. Friday night.  He was arrested after deputies said he kicked his 10-year-old child out of his car for throwing up and drove off, leaving the child alone for 15 minutes.

Christopher Griffis had his three other children, aged 1,5 and 7 years old, in the Kia Soul at the time while pulling a boat on a trailer, deputies said. 

Deputies said, a FedEx driver witnessed the incident in the parking lot near a Belk store on U.S. 1 Wednesday afternoon and called the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office. The driver said Griffis cursed at the boy as he kicked him out of the car for getting sick inside the vehicle.

Deputies arrived and were with the FedEx driver and the child when Griffis returned in the Soul with the other children. Deputies said that, when they approached Griffis and explained that they were investigating the 10-year-old being left alone, Griffis rolled up his windows and yelled that the deputies were holding the child hostage.

Authorities said Griffis had three other children inside the car, ranging from 1-7 years old, who then started screaming and crying. One of the children agreed to unlock the passenger door when a deputy asked, but as the child tried to unlock the door, Griffis quickly reversed and then hit his brakes, screeching his tires.

Deputies witnessed as Griffis then sped forward, almost hitting curbs before running a stop sign as he got onto Old Moultrie Road, leaving the 10-year-old behind once again.

Neighbors of Griffis were upset to find out what happened.

"That’s pretty harsh for any parent to do really,” neighbor Chris Dimino said.

Another neighbor said she saw how he treated the children.

“They’ll be playing and he’ll come out and start yelling at them and being hard on them,” neighbor Macy Bloomer said.

Investigators arrested Griffis Thursday evening, charging him with four counts of child neglect, one count of resisting an officer without violence and one count of reckless driving.

Court records show multiple injunctions filed against Griffis for repeated allegations of violence. Griffis also has multiple convictions for battery.

None of the children were injured in the incident. It's unclear if the children are now staying with a relative or in protective custody.  

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